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Theatre in the Time of Covid

With our partners the Bremer Shakespeare Company and Aus den Akten auf die Bühne, we are developing a script for a performance focusing on the experiences of two generations of German Romani horse traders. The BSC/AdA partnership specialises in dramatic readings composed entirely of original documents, with scripts compiled by director Peter Lüchinger from material supplied by historians. Usually the documents are assembled by students under the guidance of Dr Eva Schöck-Quinteros at the University of Bremen. For BESTROM, Peter will start with sources generated by the project teams. Dr Schöck-Quinteros’ students will carry out supplementary research and support the project in practical ways as part of their training, for example by transcribing and collating manuscript sources and reflecting on effective ways to communicate the story to different audiences.

12. Keine Zuflucht D Lohmann 1265 lowAfter seven months of fieldwork (cruelly interrupted by the pandemic) and ongoing on-line research, the Liverpool team has delivered (virtually, of course) the first batch of documents to Bremen for “processing”. At the centre of the narrative will be the “German Gypsy Invasion” of Britain in 1906, when hundreds of Sinti and Roma left Germany to seek their fortune at horse fairs and other public places in England and Scotland – partly to escape new police restrictions. Chased from pillar to post by the police, they finally returned to Germany after several months.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has darkened theatres and threatened the livelihoods of performers all over Europe and the world. The BSC is answering the challenge with a “daily Shakespeare” series of readings, talks and entertainments – mainly in German, all on YouTube.
BESTROM carries on, collaborating via e-mail, skype, zoom and all the other technologies that (don’t quite) make us feel as though we are in the same room. We look forward to meeting and embracing again on the other side of the pandemic.
And in the month in which we celebrate International Roma Day and commemorate the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald, we remember Europe’s Roma communities, which are among the hardest hit by a combination of social disadvantage and active racism.

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